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well, that sucked.
I forgot how bad Season Six was in places. I'm rewatching during workouts and I just stumbled through "Ghosts Who Stole Christmas","Terms of Endearment", and "Rain King."  The latter has its moments, and I think it may the absolute pinnacle of Pointlessly!Bitchy!Scully (my wife suggests asking your doctor about Aleve, Dana.)

But altogether, it's a real trifecta of shit, redeemed pretty much only by the gift scene in "Ghosts" (and Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner.)

Sure, there are worse episodes (any episode with a Spanish name is worse--think about it), but these three stinkers in a row are a real low point.

The only thing that bugged me about the writing on the show was that they tended to make one-shot characters into these really disposable cartoons; there's little or no sympathy at all in the portrayal of anyone besides Mulder and Scully. You never get the sense that there's any backstory, that Mulder and Scully have stepped into a place and a set of lives that existed before them and will exist after they've left. I think it's really on display here, especially in the nasty cornpone sentimentality of "Rain King." If I was from Kansas (and I'm not far, actually) I'd be pissed about that one.

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You'll get no argument from me on Terms of Endearment. Rain King paints with a very broad brush, which is never really the show's forte, I think; the brand of humor that works best on the show is the super subtle and intricate, where you have to follow the whole episode closely to really get the joke. That said, it's on my list of first episodes I can show to my kid, because it contains nothing the least bit scary or objectionable.

But I really like Ghosts, though I think it's not a perfect episode. You have to want to play with the self-referential thing for a whole episode, which requires a certain mindset going in. But the Asner-ghost's psychoanalysis of Mulder is so spot on in a twisted sort of way that I can't help but love it. And Lily Tomlin is just hilarious. I can't decide if I think the gift exchange feels tagged on or not.

And I agree with you about the lack of depth for most one-shot characters. Very occasionally, someone has a bit of an inner life, but not usually. It's one of those places where we do better than the original, I think.

Agreed about Ghosts (and about the "painting [subjects] with a very broad brush" never really being one of the show's strong points). Part of the potential reason for the differences of opinion here are probably to do with the very noticeable change in tone that takes place from S5 to S6. People do love to blame the movement of the production for that, but I really never saw that affecting as much as all the whining and crowing implies. Yes, the palette and locations are completely changed (that's the most jarring effect), and they do start to lean more toward a "lite" feel (outside the mytharc episodes, which just seem to get darker) and casting of more well-known names... but I think there's more going on there to perpetuate the change than just a shift in scenery. My main point, before all that rambling came in, was that I think these episodes are a rather hefty chunk, all in a row, that illustrates that tonal change, which is probably why they're hit-or-miss among most fans.

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